What Is Bystander Intervention?


The bystander effect is the concept that the more people there are observing a potentially violent event, the less likely any one individual is to offer help. This is because many people feel that someone else is more qualified to respond or that they don't have a personal responsibility. 

The first studies on bystander intervention began in 1964, following the rape and murder of Kitty Genovese. 
Thirty-eight people witnessed the assault, but did nothing to help. 

We believe that our community can be stronger than the bystander effect when provided with the proper tools. 
Bystander intervention is the idea that anyone can be empowered to stop a potentially violent situation. 

Every person has the capacity to be an engaged bystander. 

Engaged bystander: someone who takes action to prevent an act of violence from of occurring.
Passive bystander: someone who does not take action to prevent an act of violence from occurring. 

Bystanders often describe feeling scared or anxious of intervening, worried about misinterpreting the situation or about escalating the violence, or about making someone angry. These feelings are tied into the thought that intervention means one single act of heroism -- and it doesn't. 
Although we often discuss bystander intervention as a method of preventing sexual assault, bystander intervention is also useful when working to prevent alcohol or drug abuse, street harassment, and other unhealthy behaviors. 

Intervention can be many different things and can be both direct and indirect. 

There are two main methods for intervention: